The Dark Side of Solar Fuels and Chemicals
Peter Strasser a
a Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 124, Berlin, Germany
Proceedings of International Conference on Frontiers in Electrocatalytic Transformations (INTERECT22)
València, Spain, 2022 November 21st - 22nd
Organizers: Sara Barja, Nongnuch Artrith and Matthew Mayer
Invited Speaker, Peter Strasser, presentation 017
Publication date: 11th October 2022

The rising share of renewable electricity is testament to the increasing importance of solar/wind-electric routes to harvest sun light in form of potential differences and flowing free electrons. While some electricity is used directly or stored capacitively, an increasing portion calls for direct conversion into valuable molecular solar fuels or chemicals. This conversion in the dark is made possible by heterogeneous electrocatalysis on the surface of solid electrodes. Electrocatalysis at the electrode surface orchestrates the stepwise making or breaking of molecular chemical bonds by means of electronic charge transfer across the electrified solid electrode/electrolyte interface. Kinetic barriers of elementary reaction steps – associated with suboptimal chemisorption or stabilization of intermediates – typically limit the efficiency of the overall reaction process. Fundamental understanding of the origin of the kinetic barriers arising along the reaction coordinate aids in the design of more efficient, tailor-made electrochemical interfaces.

In this presentation, I will report on recent advances in our understanding of “dark” electrocatalytic materials, interfaces and mechanisms relevant to the conversion of solar energy into value-added molecular compounds, using, among others, in-situ/operando X-ray spectroscopic, microscopic, scattering or spectrometric techniques. Examples include the electrochemistry of small molecules as they occur in low-temperature water- and CO2 electrolyzers.

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